Friday, June 29, 2007

How to get to Duke

Here's a link to a Google Map showing how to get to Duke.

I'll be playing there tonight, as it happens.

Quick directions - go to Bakurocho station on the JR lines. Also Bakurocho-yama station on the Toei Shinjuku subway line and Higashi-Nihonbashi station on the Toei Asakusa line all connect at that station.

Go to exit A2. Exit and turn right down that side street. Pass a Daily Yamazaki convenience store on the left side, then the next building on the left will have a stairway down to the B1 floor with signs up for Duke and the other restaurants in the building. Down the stairs, turn left, the door to Duke is right in front of you.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Everest Poker Japan Cup

Okay, what's been up with Tokyo poker recently?

I haven't been out to the JPPA for a while, so I am not up to date on their events. I have to get to out some of their games again and show my face, let them know I'm alive, and see what they're up to.

Over the last couple of months, Everest Poker (which I have written about before) has been running the Everest Poker Japan Cup. This is a series of live and online tournaments for players who live in Japan. The winner of each tournament wins a trip to the Tinian Dynasty Resort and Casino and entry there into a $20,000 prize pool live poker tournament in early September.

In all, 30 players will win seats into the tournament, so it's been nothing to shake a stick at. Although Everest is an online site, of course, they have also been supportive of live poker venues in Japan. They've sponsored the Everest Cup games at the JPPA on Friday nights for what seems like years now (I still use the ipod nano I won in one of the Everest Cup games daily, though its battery is getting worn down and not holding as much of a charge as it used to). And this time around they are working with the JPEA to hold their live tournaments in several pubs in Tokyo and Osaka.

Of those 30 seats, 15 are given out to winners of the live tournaments, which began in late April. There have been two or three tournaments each month, spread around the different poker venues, and they will continue through September. The tournaments are free, though the venues may charge a player's fee for the user of their space, which is usually 1000yen or so. The first tournament kicked off at Duke, which was overflowing with excited Japanese poker players trying to cinch their spot in Tinian right out of the gate. I saw a lot of players I had never seen before - I don't know if they are primarily online players who came out to play live for the extra shots at winning a seat, or if they just play at other locations around town.

J.O. brought his A-game and took down that first tournament, and so now he kicks back and relaxes, smoking his cuban cigars, as everyone else scratches and claws to win one of the steadily dwindling seats remaining.

Ten seats are also given out to winners of online tournaments, which take place about twice per month. These tournaments are only open to Japan residents, but we always seem to get someone from Germany who comes into the observer chat to ask what the tournament is and if he can join. I usually end up as translator. ^^ I don't speak German, of course, but the guy can usually speak and understand English better than Japanese.

Also, players who participate in the live tournaments also get invitations to an online Second Chance tournament, about once per month, giving out another 5 seats. These have had smaller fields, like 40 or 50 players from the last one I was in, but they're still tough.

Anyone picked up on the fact I haven't won a spot yet?

I've been able to play in the first four or so live tournaments, but after that it's become harder. Now they are restricting entry into the EPJC tournaments to those players who have taken 1st or 2nd in one of the regular tournament games at that venue - so to play in the monthly EPJC game at Corner Pocket, let's say, you have to have one at least one of the weekly or so games at Corner Pocket that month. It's a shrewd move, since it encourages the players to come regularly instead of just once per month for the EPJC game. Unfortunately I haven't been able to attend the games regularly, so haven't won a spot in the EPJC games. Most of the remaining EPJC live tournaments are on Saturdays and Sundays, and I have non-poker commitments on the weekends so can't attend.

Still, I can't complain too much, since it's basically a $20,000 freeroll for poker players in Japan, including foreign players. I'd love to win a seat, since I think it will be a blast to head en masse to Tinian with a bunch of the other Japanese poker players and lie on the beach, eat too much, drink too much, and maybe even have a poker tournament in there. But if I can't win a spot, I might just tag along for the fun of it.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Time for an update

Casino gambling in Japan is still making progress towards legalization.
Here's the first article I saw that stated it clearly.

Hell, let me quote the entire article:

Japan to legalise casino industry - 29/05/07

The Japanese government plans to legalise casino gambling next year and is currently drafting the legislation. Seiko Noda of the ruling Liberal Democratic said that they hoped to pass the bill by the end of the next ordinary Diet session in June 2008.

The party is hoping that casinos will boost tourism, as it has in Macau, and increase tax revenues.

That's what I wanted to hear!

Several other articles I have seen have also stated essentially the same thing. I wonder why it will apparently take up to a year to draft and then pass the legislation - it strikes me like a husband making plans for a getaway trip with his buddies and not telling his wife about it until the last minute, "waiting for the right time". The wife in this case is probably both the Japanese public, whose reaction to this announcement will be hard to predict, and the pachinko industry, which should be easier. Smaller-scale pachinko operators will probably hate the idea, since it threatens to steal their customers. The equipment companies can probably re-tool to service the slots and other gambling machines in the casinos, and so could see it as a new opportunity to make a pile of money.

I will be curious to see if they adapt any of the medal games you see in Japanese game centers to straight gambling machines for currency in the casinos. Some are straight slot machines, others are maddeningly addictive coin-launching, spinning, shooting devices with Rube Goldberg spinning wheels and contraptions that can suck you in for hours at a time. I'd think these would be pretty easy to port over, though they might have to tweak the payouts a bit, since I think many medal games are set to pay out liberally, since even if you win more medals than you put in, you can't use them for anything but... more medal games.

One reason for the legislation taking so long to draft is probably location of the casinos. Last I heard they were planning to limit the casinos to up to three main locations, and several areas have pushed for them, including Tokyo, Osaka, Okinawa, and Miyazaki-ken. The government will probably have to consider carefully where to permit the new casinos, considering they plan to use them to increase tourism, jobs, and revenue, but also have to be careful of increased crime and violence in those areas.

If they open the new casinos in Okinawa instead of Tokyo, I'll shoot myself. Who the hell wants to fly all the way down there to go gamble? Might as well just fly to Seoul at that point - closer, cheaper, and better food. (No, I don't like goya.) Obviously I'm hoping for something near Tokyo. The Odaiba area would be perfect, in my humble opinion.

More details about the plan are available at this article:

In particular, casinos are seen as a way to revitalise local economies, which have not enjoyed the economic recovery seen recently in large urban centres. Leading casino operators, including Las Vegas Sands and Genting of Malaysia, had told the LDP there was "tremendous potential, because Japan could attract interest from north China and Russia, where there has been huge [economic] growth", she said.

"There is definitely enough demand for casinos," says Aaron Fisher, analyst at CLSA in Tokyo. Tokyo, in particular, has a large population within a two-hour radius earning a lot of money. "Definitely the returns [could be] huge," he says.

Unfortunately this sounds like they are thinking of opening these casinos outside the Tokyo area to try to spread the wealth around. Ugh. Two hours by bullet train covers a lot of area, and bullet train tickets add up. When I was snowboarding, train tickets to get up to Niigata or Nagano could run 10,000-20,000yen for a round trip. Arriving at the casino already stuck for $100 will make it hard to show a profit.

Still. Cheaper than Vegas.